Google vs Facebook Advertising: A Small Businesses Guide

Google vs Facebook Small Business Marketing

If you're a small business owner, you know that advertising is critical to growing your brand. The digital landscape offers many opportunities, but the two giants - Google and Facebook - often stand out. With billions of users between them, they provide you access to a vast audience. But which platform is right for you? Should you choose Google's extended, paid search and network or Facebook's highly targeted, paid search and social media advertising platform?

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This comprehensive guide will help you explore Google ads vs. Facebook ads and compare their different ad types, targeting options, and costs. By the end, we hope you'll be better positioned to make an informed decision that best suits your business needs. And remember, at Goal Based Marketing; we're always here to help with your marketing or SEO strategies.

Google Advertising

Google's online advertising platform, Google Ads, operates on a pay-per-click (PPC) model. This means that Google ads make you pay only when someone clicks on your ad. Google Ads gives you access to Google's vast Search Network and Display Network.


Facebook Advertising

Facebook's advertising platform is integrated with Instagram, allowing you to run ads on both platforms simultaneously. The primary model for Facebook for mobile advertising revenue is pay-per-impression (PPI), where you pay based on the number of times your ad is shown, not clicked.

Google Ads vs. Facebook Ads: Audience Size

Google reaches over 90% of internet users worldwide through its search engines, google display network, and partner websites. Facebook, on the other hand, boasts over 2.8 billion monthly active users. Despite these large numbers, the true value lies not in the audience size but in their relevance to your business.

discussing google adwords search ads strategy

Understanding the Differences between Google Ads and Facebook Ads

Google Ads primarily operates on a pay-per-click model, while Facebook Ads use a pay-per-impression model. Google Ads are also search intent-only-based, serving users actively searching for related keywords. In contrast, Facebook Ads are disruptive and appear based on user demographics, interests, and behaviors, making them ideal for building brand awareness and engagement.

Google Ads vs. Facebook Ads: How They Work

Google Ads display your ads based on the keywords users search for. When a user's search query matches your keywords, your ad may appear in the search results. Facebook Ads display your ads to users who match the demographics, interests, and behaviors you've chosen for your target audience.

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Benefits of Google Ads vs. Benefits of Facebook Ads

Google Ads offers the advantage of reaching users who have high intent, meaning they're actively searching for products or services like yours. Its network also provides a wide range of ad formats and expansive reach. Facebook Ads offer robust targeting options, allowing you to reach a specific demographic based on interests, behaviors, and more. It also encourages engagement and has a variety of creative ad formats to enhance user experience

Facebook Ads vs. Google Ads: Ease of Use

Both ad platforms have user-friendly interfaces, but they come with complexities. Google Ads might seem more complex due to the keyword research and bidding strategies involved. On the other hand, Facebook Ads require a deep understanding of audience segmentation and ad creativity. Both ad platforms provide extensive resources and tools to guide users, and both can be mastered with practice.

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How Does Google Advertising Work?

Google advertising, while seemingly complex, can be broken down into manageable steps that create a roadmap to your successful ad campaign. Much like Facebook, Google search ad offers features that can help tailor your search and display ads to the right audience at the right time.

Here's a step-by-step guide on how Google advertising works:

  1. Choose your campaign type: Google offers several types of ad campaigns to suit your objectives. Depending on your goals, you can select Search Network, Display Network, Shopping, Video, App, or Local campaigns. Each campaign type aligns with objectives like increasing website visits, improving product visibility, boosting brand awareness, or driving app downloads.

  2. Set your goal and campaign sub-type: Google will ask you to define your campaign goals, such as sales, leads, website traffic, product and brand consideration, brand awareness and reach, or app promotion. Additionally, you choose a campaign sub-type, which determines where customers see your ads and what format they can be in.

  3. Target your audience: Google offers multiple targeting options, from primary demographic data and geographic location to more advanced options like in-market audiences (people interested in products/services like yours), affinity audiences (people with specific interests), and remarketing lists (people who have already interacted with your business).

  4. Choose where your ads appear: Depending on the campaign type, Google ads can appear on Google Search results, partner websites in the Display Network, Google Shopping, Google Maps, or YouTube.

  5. Set your budget and bid strategy: Define how much you will spend on your campaign daily. You also set your bid strategy, which is how Google will use your budget to bid for ad placements in auctions. This could be focused on clicks, impressions, conversions, views, or engagement.

  6. Design your ads: Depending on the campaign type, you may create text, images, video, or product ads. You'll need to choose keywords relevant to your products or services for Search Network campaigns. Users might use these words or phrases on Google when looking for a business like yours.

determining the best google ads and facebook ads

Once your ad is live, it enters an auction with advertisements from other businesses targeting the same audience or different relevant keywords. Google determines which ads to display based on the ad rank, a combination of your bid amount and your ad's quality score (a measure of ad relevance, expected click-through rate, and landing page experience).

How Does Facebook Advertising Work?

Like Google, Facebook also operates on a pay-per-click model, but it stands out due to its unparalleled user data and advanced targeting capabilities. To start advertising on your Facebook page, you create an ad campaign through the Facebook Ads Manager. Here are the basic steps:

  1. Choose your objective: Facebook offers a variety of campaign objectives, such as brand awareness, reach, traffic, engagement, conversions, and more. The purpose should align with your overall business goals.

  2. Define your audience: This is where Facebook truly shines. You can target users based on demographics, geographic location, interests, behaviors, and connections. Additionally, you can create Custom Audiences (people who have already interacted with your business) and Lookalike Audiences (new people similar to your best existing customers).

  3. Decide where to run your ad: Facebook allows you to run your ad not just on Facebook itself but also on Instagram, Messenger, and Audience Network (a collection of websites and apps outside of Facebook where your ad can appear).

  4. Set your budget: You can choose a daily or lifetime budget for your ad, and Facebook will never exceed this amount. The cost of your ad will depend on several factors, including the size of your audience and the ad placement.

  5. Pick a format: Choose from several ad formats, including image, video, carousel (a slideshow of pictures or videos), and collection (which allows users to discover, browse, and purchase products directly from their mobile device).

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Once your ad is running, users can interact with it by liking it, commenting on it, sharing it, or clicking on it. Every interaction gives you valuable data that you can use to refine your campaign further and improve its effectiveness

Google Ads vs. Facebook Ads: Which is more expensive?

While it's true that the cost-per-click (CPC) on the Google search ad, and display Ads, can be higher than the cost-per-impression (CPM) on Facebook Ads, it's essential to understand the bigger picture. Google ads' higher CPC can be attributed to the high-intent nature of search advertising—users are actively seeking solutions, increasing the likelihood of conversion. On the other hand, the Facebook ad's lower CPM reflects its role in the awareness and discovery stages of the customer journey.

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Notably, both platforms operate on a bidding system, so factors like industry, competition, quality of ad, and relevance to the target audience can influence ad spending costs. Therefore, it's crucial to consider ad spend's return on investment (ROI) rather than just the initial cost. For example, your advertising dollars could go further on Google Ads if you're in a niche market with high-converting keywords or on Facebook Ads if you have a broad, engagement-focused campaign.

Google Ads vs. Facebook Ads: Buyer Intent

Understanding buyer search intent is crucial in your mobile optimization and determining which platform will yield the best results for your campaign. Google Ads serve users actively searching for a product or service, signaling high purchase intent. For example, if a user searches "buy leather boots," and you sell leather boots, a well-optimized Google Ad could lead that user directly to your site.

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Conversely, Facebook Ads operate on a more passive, interest-based model. These ads appear in a user's feed based on their profile information, behaviors, and preferences. While a user may not have immediate purchase intent, a compelling Facebook Ad could spark interest, leading to brand discovery and eventual conversion.

Google Ads Campaigns

Google's advertising platform, Google Ads, operates on a pay-per-click (PPC) model. This means that Google ads make you pay only when someone clicks on your ad. Google Ads gives you access to paid ads on Google's vast audience network, google Search, Network, and Display Network.

Google Search Ads

Google Search Ads appear on Google's search engine results page (SERP). When users search for keywords and terms related to your business, your ad can appear at the top or bottom of the SERP. These ads are text-based and highly effective when you want to reach users actively searching for products or services like yours.

search google ads

Display Ads and the Google Display Network

Google Display Ads are visual banner-style advertisements on websites within Google's Display Network. This includes over two million websites and apps, reaching over 90% of people online. These banner ads are ideal for brand exposure and re-engaging visitors.

Shopping Ads

Google Shopping Ads showcase your online and local inventory. They appear in Google Shopping (in select countries), Google Search, and sometimes Google Display Network. Shopping Ads include an image, title, price, and store name, allowing users to see products simultaneously.

Video Ads

Google Video Ads appear on YouTube and other video partner sites across the Display Network. You only pay when users engage with your ad, such as by clicking on a call-to-action or watching a full 30-second video.


Local Service Ads

Google Local Service Ads are a fantastic option for service-based businesses. They appear at the top of the Google Search results and show your business, reviews, and a call-to-action button. Google's local service ads also provide a "Google Guaranteed" badge to businesses that pass a screening process, boosting trust among potential customers.

Facebook Advertising

Facebook's advertising platform is integrated with Instagram, allowing you to run ads on both platforms simultaneously. The primary model for Facebook advertising is pay-per-impression (PPI), where you pay based on the number of times your ad is shown, not clicked.

Image Ads

Facebook Image Ads are simple yet powerful. You can drive traffic, increase awareness, and promote your product or service with a single image, compelling copy, and strong call-to-action.

Video Ads

Facebook Video Ads can appear in News Feeds, Stories, and within other video content on Facebook or Instagram. Video Ads can help increase brand awareness, engage your audience, and encourage users to take action.

Carousel Ads

Facebook Carousel Ads lets you showcase up to 10 images or videos in a single ad, each with its own link. These are perfect for highlighting different products, showcasing specific details about one product, or telling a story about your brand.

Slideshow Ads

Facebook Slideshow Ads are video-like ads comprising a series of still images, text, or existing video clips. They're great for businesses that want to create compelling video content quickly and affordably.

Collection Ads

Facebook Collection Ads allow you to showcase products that prospective customers can browse and purchase directly from the ad. This mobile-only ad format is perfect for e-commerce businesses looking to drive sales.

Dynamic Ads

Facebook Dynamic Ads automatically promote products to people who have shown interest on your website, in your app, or elsewhere on the internet. This ad type is excellent for retargeting and personalization.

Messenger Ads

Facebook Messenger Ads allow you to reach your audience directly in their Messenger inbox. They are ideal for promoting engagement, offering customer support, and driving conversions.

Google Ads vs. Facebook Ads: Campaign Features

Facebook Ads offers a suite of campaign features that allow advertisers to effectively target and show retargeting ads to their audience. Features like Custom Audiences and Lookalike Audiences enable you to reach specific groups of people, from past website visitors to people similar to your best customers. In addition, Facebook's in-depth performance reports and ad optimization tools allow you to tweak and improve your campaigns based on real-time data.

Audience Targeting

Any marketing strategy must reach the right people at the right time. Both Google Ads and Facebook Ads offer a plethora of audience targeting options, each with unique strengths.

Google Ads: Precise Targeting for High-Intent Audiences

Google Ads' targeting capabilities are excellent for reaching potential customers based on their search queries, geographical location, device type, and even the time of day. For example, if you run a local bakery, you can use Google Ads to target users searching for bakeries in your area when they might be craving a mid-morning snack.

This ability to target high-intent searches can increase the chances of converting these potential customers into actual ones.


Facebook Ads: Granular Targeting for Specific Interests and Behaviors

On the other hand, Facebook Ads offers a more granular targeting approach. Beyond basic demographics, Facebook ads allow you to target users based on their interests, behaviors, and connections.

For example, if you're a fitness apparel brand, you could target users who have shown an interest in health and wellness, frequently engage with fitness influencers, and are connected to people who have already liked your page.

This level of specificity can help you reach a highly relevant audience, increasing your chances of engagement and conversions.

Advantages of Using Google Ads

Google Ads offers several advantages:

  1. Reach: Google Ads can reach over 90% of internet users worldwide.

  2. High Intent: Users on Google are actively searching for products or services, meaning they have a higher intent to purchase.

  3. Variety of Ad Formats: From text-based Search Ads to visual Display Ads, you have a wide range of options to suit your advertising goals.

  4. Measurement: Google Ads provides detailed reports, allowing you to track your ad performance and optimize your campaigns.

Advantages of Using Facebook Ads

Facebook Ads also offer numerous benefits:

  1. Extensive Reach: With over 2.8 billion monthly active users, Facebook ads give you access to a massive audience.

  2. Robust Targeting Options: Facebook's advanced targeting options allow you to reach a particular audience based on demographics, interests, behaviors, and more.

  3. Engagement: Facebook's interactive platform encourages likes, comments, and shares, fostering engagement with your audience.

  4. Visual Appeal: Facebook's ad formats are more visually oriented, allowing for creative and engaging advertisements.

    facebook reels

Ad Placement Options

Google Ads can appear on Google search, search engine results pages, partner websites, and within apps in the Display Network. Facebook Ads can be displayed in the News Feed, Stories, and Right Column on Facebook, as well as on Instagram, Audience Network, and Messenger.

How do you calculate an ad spend budget for Facebook Ads?

To calculate your Facebook Ads budget, start by defining your marketing objective and the value of that objective. Consider your marketing budget, the cost of acquiring a new customer, and your expected conversion rate.

Keep in mind that Facebook ads operate on a bidding system, so you'll need to balance your budget with the competitiveness of your target audience.

How do you calculate an ad spend budget for Google Ads?

Calculating a budget for a Google Ads campaign follows a similar process. Start with your end goal and work backward. Consider your average cost-per-click (CPC), your website's conversion rate, and the conversion value from Google Ads. Also, factor in the competitiveness of your keywords.

Facebook Ads Are Better for Brand Awareness and Top-Funnel Goals

With its vast user base and engaging platform, Facebook Ads are excellent for raising brand awareness and reaching users in the awareness and consideration stages of the buyer's journey.

Google Ads Are Better if You Aren't Sure Who Your Audience Is

If you're unsure of your target audience, Google Ads can be a safer bet. With its keyword-based targeting, you can reach users actively searching for products or services like yours, regardless of their demographics or interests.

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When to Use Each Advertising Platform

Use Google Ads to reach users actively searching for your products or services. It's ideal for driving website traffic and generating leads. Facebook Ads are best for raising brand awareness and encouraging your paid social media advertising, shares, and engagement with Facebook users.

How To Use Google Ads and Facebook Ads Together

A combination of both platforms can be a powerful strategy. Use Google Ads for its strong search capabilities and Facebook Ads for its advanced targeting options. You can capture potential customers at different stages of the buyer's journey - from awareness to consideration to decision-making.

Facebook Ads vs. Google Ads: Customer Service

Both platforms offer customer service support, but the level of support can vary. For example, Google Ads provides phone, email, and chat support and an extensive online help center.

Facebook Ads provides support through its Help Center and has an option for email support, although some users report longer response times.

Are Google Ads Effective?

Yes, Google Ads paid search can be incredibly effective. The platform offers a massive reach and serves ads to users actively searching for products or services like yours, leading to higher conversion rates.

However, the effectiveness of a Google Ads campaign heavily depends on strategic keyword selection passive, active ad show, compelling ad copy, and continuous optimization.

Are Google Ads Worth it?

"Google Ads campaigns can provide a significant return on investment, making them worth the expenditure for many businesses.

However, this largely depends on your industry's competitiveness, bid strategy, and ability to manage and optimize your campaigns effectively.

Are Facebook Ads Effective?

Absolutely. Facebook Ads can effectively raise brand awareness, drive engagement, and convert users into customers.

With its robust targeting options, you can reach a highly relevant audience. Plus, the variety of ad formats allows creative and engaging ads that resonate with users.

Are Facebook Ads Worth it?

For many businesses, yes. Facebook Ads can offer a high return on investment, particularly for brand awareness and engagement goals. However, as with Google Ads, the success of Facebook Ads depends on your strategy.

A well-targeted, compelling ad can be worth every penny, while a poorly planned ad may yield less impressive results.

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Choosing Between Google and Facebook Advertising

Now that we've reviewed the ad type let's determine which platform suits your business best.

Google Ads excels when your goal is to reach customers with high purchase intent — customers who are actively searching for products or services like yours. It's great for lead generation, driving traffic to your website, and increasing sales.

On the other hand, it can be more complex to set up and manage, and the cost-per-click can be higher due to competition.

With its rich demographic and interest-based targeting options, Facebook Advertising excels in reaching a specific audience and increasing brand awareness. It's also excellent for engaging with your audience and driving social shares. The cost-per-impression model might make it a more affordable choice for small businesses, but remember, impressions do not necessarily translate into actions.

Which is better: Google Ads or Facebook Ads?

Determining which ad platform is "better" depends entirely on your business objectives, target audience, and budget. For example, Google Ads are excellent for reaching users with high purchase intent, while Facebook Ads shine in audience targeting and engagement.

For many businesses, combining both ad types can yield the best results. You'll even add other channels like Bing Ads or LinkedIn.

Making The Choice

Choosing between Google Ads and Facebook Ads for audience targeting depends on your specific business goals, your target audience's characteristics, and your product or service's nature.

Google Ads might serve you better if you want to capture high-intent users ready to purchase. At the same time, Facebook Ads could be ideal for building brand awareness and reaching a specific audience based on their interests and behaviors.

There's no one-size-fits-all winner in the battle of Google vs. Facebook Advertising. But remember, you don't have to navigate these waters alone. Instead, you can leverage these powerful online advertising platforms with a partner like Goal Based Marketing to drive your business forward.

By partnering with us, you can focus on what you do best - running your business while we handle your marketing needs. So lets chat and see how we can help you achieve your marketing objectives.

Tom Burchnell

Tom Burchnell is an accomplished marketing leader known for his strategic acumen and ability to drive revenue growth. He has an impressive track record in product positioning, developing go-to-market strategies, and harnessing data to inform marketing decisions. Tom's unique strength lies in his ability to identify untapped market opportunities and devise strategies to capitalize on them. Over the course of his career, he has demonstrated his skills in both B2B and B2C marketing. Tom has a knack for creating impactful content that resonates with diverse audiences and drives business growth


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